“Whatever happened to the Egyptians” is a rhetorical question that everyone asks nowadays. Doctor Galal Amin is an Egyptian economist and commentator whose one of his most famous book is “whatever happened to the Egyptians” that was published in 2000. This book discusses the changes in the Egyptian society from 1950 till now in some aspects like the westernization, the migration, the weddings and many other things.
This essay is going to focus on two main aspects that have been changed a lot especially after the Egyptian revolution in 1952, which are the migration and the position of women. Gamil Amin in the sixth chapter focuses on the position of women in the Egyptian society, by comparing his mother’s life to his daughter’s, he tries to emphasize the emancipation of Egyptian women in the last half-century. In fact, at the time of his mother, women spent most of the times in kitchens, cooking for their husbands.
Therefore, they depended on their husbands in everything. Women were, hence considered weak and incapable of any independence. Consequently, women started to believe that they are weak and that they cannot live without their husbands. They lacked confidence. Their only aim in life was to keep their husbands satisfied by cooking for them and giving birth to boys. Marital relationships were, thus, some kind of business or an exchange: men gave money to women in exchange of food and boys to carry their names.
However, today, the time of Galal Amin’s daughter, the position of women has relatively changed. The author tends to explain this change from an economic point of view: continuous inflation has led to the necessity of the increase in the house income, forcing, therefore, women to get out of their kitchens to work and get a salary. Women became relatively independent from their husbands. Amin describes his daughter’s busy life showing how she manages her career, her husband, her son, her house, her studies and herself.
This slight liberation of women is most probably due to westernization: colonialism, European schools and universities, intellectuals who studied and worked abroad have imported a certain image of the emancipated women to Egypt. Nevertheless, the daughter of such a prominent and educated writer is not considered to be a representative of Egyptian women. Indeed, women are still considered as inferiors to men. Women’s emancipation hasn’t been completed. In fact, a woman is still seen as a weak human being. Women in the countryside are mistreated, they are not ent to school or they stop going to school after puberty, and they are forced to get married early. The high rate of harassment and rape in Egypt illustrates that women are still seen as a sexual instrument. Indeed, A report published by the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights in 2008, found that 83 percent of Egyptian women and 93 percent of foreign women had experienced sexual harassment. Therefore, it is noticeable that Egyptian women are still depreciated which is showed even in many aspects in Egypt, women cannot work in a lot of fields because of the inequalities in gender that are still remaining till now.
Moreover, “migration” is a term that has seen a lot of modifications over the decades in the Egyptian society; therefore Dr Amin studies the evolution of the migration. Firstly, at the beginning of the 20th century, migration was a very rare phenomenon. Indeed, even internal migration was very hard for Egyptians: everyone felt better at their homes even if the conditions were not perfect. Besides the factor of inflexibility, the lack of means of transportation available and affordable by the different classes of the societies contributed to the low rate of migration.
Nonetheless, migration started to appear in the mid 1960’s. Three main categories of the society were the initiators of migration: the wealthy elite of the society, businessmen who were affected by the nationalization that accompanied the revolution of 1952 and Egyptian Jews. The first two categories headed mainly to North America seeking for jobs that provide them with the same income they used to get from their private job and maybe better. As for the Egyptians Jews, they had the same issue with the nationalization.
Indeed, most of the Jews wee businessmen woring in the private sector who were deprived from their jobs. Furthermore, in a context of war, these Jews suffered from violent anti-Semitism, preferring, therefore, to leave their motherland seeking a safer life. A second phase of migration started in the 1970’s with the rise of unemployment, the increase of the prices of oil and the insufficient labor in the Gulf countries oil producers. The interlacement of these three factors led to the increase of unskilled Egyptians immigrating to these countries seeking a better job and better revenues.
Ambitious and in need, these people accept to leave their families for several years going to another country. Obviously, the economic and political factors are the main reasons to the increase of migration in the Egyptian society. The phenomenon of migration is still increasing till now because of the unstable political situation, as people become more and more afraid for the lack of safeness that is increasing everyday. Therefore people prefer to immigrate just to escape from this dangerous country.
The Egyptian revolution has furthermore, caused an enormous decrease in the output, therefore a lot of people lost their jobs, which has made them insisting on the migration. In conclusion, most of the modifications that have happened in the Egyptian society are reasoned from political, economic or cultural reasons. It is obvious that the position of women has changed over the decades to the better but still till now the gender inequalities are remaining till today. The phenomenon of migration has appeared in the 70’s and it is still increasing due to the economic and political issues.